A long-awaited Big Ten showdown between two of the league's preseason favorites lived up to the hype Friday night as No. 19 Illinois outlasted No. 7 Iowa 80-75 during the first game in over a week for both squads. The Illini held the Hawkeyes to just two field goals in the final five minutes to secure what is unquestionably their best win of the season.
The matchup was billed as a showdown between two of the league's premier bigs in Iowa's Luka Garza and Illinois' Kofi Cockburn. But the Illinois backcourt duo of Ayo Dosunmu and Trent Frazier stole the show, combining for 49 points on an incredibly efficient 19-of-31 shooting. Cockburn finished with just nine points but pulled down 10 rebounds and did a decent job of containing Garza, who is the nation's leading scorer.
Garza entered averaging 26.9 points per game and started fast with 10 points in the first seven minutes but finished with 19 after he was limited to just 28 minutes due to foul trouble. Iowa (12-4, 6-3 Big Ten) also played without sharpshooting sophomore guard CJ Fredrick, who is battling a leg injury. Without Fredrick, who is shooting 50% from 3-point range this season, the Hawkeyes went over 10 minutes in the second half without hitting a 3-pointer.
Still, despite Garza's foul trouble and Fredrick's absence, Iowa found itself in the game in the game late and on the wrong end of a controversial call. With his team down 76-72 and 1:05 remaining, Hawkeyes guard Joe Wieskamp attempted a floater that Cockburn swatted away. Wieskamp recovered the block and banked in a shot that appeared to cut Iowa's deficit to 76-74. But as he did, play stopped for what was ruled a goaltend by Cockburn.
When the officials reviewed the play, however, they determined it was a clean block. The play left Iowa still trailing by two possessions, and the Hawkeyes ultimately turned the ball over after play resumed. Jordan Bohannon did get a game-tying 3-point attempt with 7 seconds left, but it missed, which allowed the Illini (11-5, 7-3) to escape with a win.